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The Octave Day of Easter
excerpt from
COMMON PRAYER: A Commentary on the Prayer Book Lectionary
Volume 3: Easter to Pentecost (p. 13-14)
St. Peter Publications Inc. Charlottetown, PEI, Canada
Reprinted with permission of the publisher.
This Sunday is traditionally known as "Low Sunday", because although the celebration of Easter is carried through to this its Octave Day, it is of a lesser degree. 

In the collect for today, we address God as "Almighty Father" for the first time in the Church's year.  The events of the season remind us of how this is possible, enabled as we are to approach the throne of grace as children restored to a father's love.  It was the Father who first loved us, sparing not his own Son, but giving him as a sacrifice for our sins.  And so our reconciliation with our heavenly Father was made possible.  Jesus Christ died for our sins, rising for our justification.  "Christ hath died, and become the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (I John 2.2).  It is sin which separates us from God.  Christ, therefore, who removes sin, removes the separation and allows us to call God our Father. 

The joy of this Easter Season would be incomplete if our Saviour had remained in the grave.  Having died for our sins, he rose for our justification.  By this obedience he brought about the conditional salvation of mankind.  There is no way that we can justify ourselves before God.  We cannot show why we deserve to be pardoned of our sin.  We cannot on our own merits claim a place in God's eternal kingdom.  But through Jesus Christ we have hope of achieving all these things.  As one hymn-writer has pleaded, so we all plead: 

 Look, Father, look on his anointed face,
And only look on us as found in him;
Look not on our misusing of thy grace,
Our prayer so languid, and our faith so dim:
For lo! between our sins and their reward
We set the Passion of thy Son our Lord.
                             (The Book of Common Praise, Hymn 221)
By the justifying grace which comes through Jesus Christ, we can look forward to a glorious future, a peace which "passeth all understanding", even the joys of life in the eternal kingdom.

And yet this salvation which comes through Jesus Christ must also be for us a present reality.  In the collect for today, again, we pray, "Grant us so to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness, that we may always serve thee in pureness of living and truth".  As Christ was raised to life, so must our souls be raised right now to newness of life.  The Son of God-- who died for the sins of all, and rose again to justify all -- died and rose again in vain for us as individuals, unless we meet the conditions on which salvation is offered as a free gift to all, and these conditions are, that we live lives of righteousness.  Justified, we must also be sanctified.  "Be ye perfect," said Jesus, "Even as your Father in heaven is perfect." (Matt. 5:48)

The lessons for the week to come (Cdn BCP, 1962) are from Deuteronomy, and tell of the Children of Israel's time in the wilderness, and God's repeated attempts to bring them into obedience, that is, to make them a holy nation.  We will also read lessons from Acts, which tell of the foundation and first years of the Christian Church.  Once again, what was expected of the early Christians was obedient holiness.  Let us pray that, justified by the Blood of Jesus Christ, we may also be obedient children of our heavenly Father, sanctified and made fit for the world to come.